An important mindset for you, your boss, and your organization is that your membership in an industry association is work-related. This is not an extracurricular activity. The benefits to you and your organization, as we reviewed in prior posts, are compelling and numerous.
Once you convince your boss that your membership and your attendance is work-related, you want to have your organization pay for your membership or registration fees. Ideally, your boss has budgeted money for industry memberships and meeting registrations. If not, help your boss become proactive by allocating dollars during the budget planning cycle for professional development and industry memberships. The fastest way to close a conversation regarding your organization paying your fees is that there is no money budgeted.
There are millions of ways to introduce yourself and millions of times you will do so. We introduce ourselves so often that we undervalue how important an energetic and uplifting introduction can be. Let’s face it, we have become bored introducing ourselves.
Introducing yourself is the first visibility accelerator as it is the degree to which you introduce yourself to new colleagues and make a great first impression. You will never get a second chance to make a great first impression, and a great first impression starts with an energetic and uplifting introduction!
Here are three tips I have heard recently that you can integrate into your introduction to ensure it is energetic and uplifting:
- Linda Rossetti, author of Women & Transition: Reinventing Work and Life, shared at a networking event the idea of labeling. When you are introducing yourself, you want your introduction to be simple and memorable. One way to do this is to think of a word that best describes you in the marketplace. Words like “builder,” or “change manager,” or “architect,” or “developer.” Whatever your word might be, this is a great way for folks to get a fuller sense of who you are and what you can do for their organization.
- Larry Stybel, author of Navigating the Waterfall: Your Guide to Job Search and Career Management, shared at a networking event the idea of not being typical. When you are introducing yourself, you want to stand out from your colleagues. One way to do this is to say, “I am not your typical ______ leader and here’s why.” You can insert your functional area (i.e., Human Resources, Marketing, Bio-pharmacy, Legal) and give 1 – 2 examples of how you are different based on your past work history. Whatever your examples are, this is a great way for folks to get a deeper sense of who you are and how you are different.
- A final suggestion that I have developed working with colleagues is to describe yourself through the eyes of others. When you are introducing yourself, you want to talk about your strengths, and it is stronger to do so through the eyes of others. One way to do this is to say, “If you ask others how to describe me, you would hear words like ______, and ______, and ______.” This is also a great way to communicate the reputation you want to have in the marketplace. Whatever your strengths are, this is a great way for you to “toot your horn” and do so from the viewpoint of others.
Here is a more in depth look at how you can help ensure that your boss’s mindset regarding your participation in industry association events is a hurdle rather than a roadblock:
- Be open with your boss. Your participation in an industry association should not be a secret. In order to reduce the stress that your boss or your organization may create due to your membership in an industry association, be open with your boss regarding any industry affiliations. Share with your boss that while you anticipate it will be infrequent, you will be interested in attending an industry meeting or conference that might occur during a workday. Confirm with your boss that you will let her know immediately so that your attendance is not a surprise.
- Ask for support. Once your boss is aware that you might attend an industry association meeting or conference during the workday, ask for his support. Ensure he understands that the meeting is work-related, and remind him of the benefits, including the following:
- You will network with other business professionals in order to identify talent for key open positions in your department.
- You will network with industry experts who might have insights on how to plan and implement a big project that is scheduled to start next year.
- You will learn and bring back to the organization best practices that can help the organization achieve its short- and long-term goals.
- You will accelerate your professional development, increasing the value that you provide the organization.
- Plan for your absence. Once you are committed to attend an industry event that occurs during the workday, ensure that you plan for your absence. Often, you boss will feel less angst if she knows that pending work is being completed while you are away. Delegate key tasks to your subordinates, and ask a peer to act as a “point-person” for your team in your absence. This way, you ensure that the work you are responsible for gets done. By identifying a peer to act as your point-person during your absence, you also reduce the risk of drowning in a flood or emails and phone calls from subordinates, clients, and bosses.
- Deliver on your plan. In order to ensure that you can attend future events during the workday, you must deliver on your plan. Nothing will shoot down a future request to attend an industry event during the workday faster than the memory of a debacle that occurred during your last absence. Assuming your plan worked, ensure your boss is aware that your team rose to the occasion.
Balancing work and industry association engagement in your busy organization is not easy. Engaging with industry associations can become harder if your boss does not support the concept. Your boss may feel that industry association meetings are just social or networking events “dressed-up” to look like a work-related event. Your boss may believe that engaging with your industry is not a productive use of time. Your boss may think that any industry related activities should be done “off-the-clock.” If your boss has any of these perspectives, his lack of support can be a significant hurdle to your efforts to engage with your industry.
In order to ensure that your boss’s mindset is a hurdle rather than a roadblock, follow these steps:
- Be open with your boss.
- Ask for support.
- Plan for your absence.
- Deliver on your plan.
Next week, we’ll take a more in depth look at how you can ensure that your boss’s mindset is a hurdle rather than a roadblock.